The Isle of Wight Literary Festival this year takes place from 15th to 18th October, with a wide variety of literary figures coming to the Island for workshops, talks and other events.

In celebration the Isle of Wight Guru takes a look at some of the Isle of Wight's most famous literary connections, and the places they went to "get away from it all".

(above) Tennyson Monument at Freshwater Bay

Numerous noted writers have spent time on the Isle of Wight. Whilst their homes aren’t generally open to the public, they are worth a quick mention as you might be passing a property and can start to recite 'Endymion' by Keats for about five seconds before the children tell you to stop being so embarrassing.

  1. A big chunk of David Copperfield was written by Charles Dickens whilst he stayed at Winterbourne Country House in Bonchurch. It used to be a bed and breakfast but it was put up for sale a couple of years ago (a snip at £1.35 million) and isn’t open to the public at the moment.
  2. The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson lived at Farringford in the West Wight, which now offers some self catering. He certainly left his mark on the Island - you can also visit Tennyson Down and the Tennyson Monument near Totland whilst admiring the gorgeous views.
  3. John Keats spent some time at a property on Castle Road in Carisbrooke from about 1817 to 1819, although no-one quite seems too sure on which property it was. He also stayed at Eglantine Cottage which is now (apparently) Keats Cottage B&B in Shanklin.
  4. JB Priestley (who wrote An Inspector Calls) lived at Brook Hill House in the 1950s. The house is private but it is very visible on the top of the hill as you drive through Brook (near the Military Road, South West Wight).
  5. Poet Algernon Swinburne spent much time around Bonchurch and at Northcourt in Shorwell. He’s buried at the Victorian era church in Bonchurch and was baptised at the ancient Church of St Boniface. Oscar Wilde apparently once complained that Swinburne wasn’t nearly as decadent as he liked to pretend. Public feuds were obviously much more civilised in those days and often extended beyond 140 characters.
  6. Finally, multiple Oscar winning playwright and director Anthony Minghella (English Patient, Talented Mr Ripley, Cold Mountain) grew up on the Isle of Wight. You'll see the family Ice Cream factory as you pass through Wootton Bridge.

This is an exerpt from Isle of Wight Guru’s 25 Historic Days Out on the Isle of Wight




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